I saw a question from an HRZone reader in the Any Answers section, https://www.hrzone.com/anyanswers/question/how-customer-service-best-recovered-after-mistake-has-been-made/145047 about how she could best help her company and the member of staff in question, recover after a mistake with a customer was made.

As I didn’t know all the details relating to the mistake, there was only so much advice I could give, but I really wanted to blog about steps for service recovery after a mistake has been made.

Of course my 6 tips below are generic and not sector-specific, but I hope they may give readers food-for-thought about tactics they could use or adapt to help when a mistake in their company, has been made.

Even though that mistake may not be your fault or indeed anything to do with you personally, you still need to know how to recover that situation.

Service recovery is putting a smile on your customer’s face after you’ve made a mistake and when it’s done well, can impact your brand and its reputation.

Here are 5 top tips from Creativedge for Service Recovery:-

1. Take responsibility

If you have answered the phone on behalf of the company, you have indeed accepted 100% responsibility – at least that’s what the customer believes.

Admit the company has made a mistake. Its human nature to want to blame someone else for a mistake, but the customer doesn’t care who made it! They just want the employee standing in front of them to correct it.

So get off the “it’s not my fault” syndrome. And get into the “what can I do for you” position.

2. Apologise

Many service providers don’t feel they should say “I’m sorry” when it wasn’t their fault.

Well, as I said in Tip 1, in the customer’s mind, it IS your fault.

The point is not to determine who’s to blame. It’s to solve the problem. If customers have a problem, chances are they’re not happy.

The first step is to acknowledge the fact that – at least in the customer’s eyes – a problem does exist.

So start by telling them that you’re sorry personally and sincerely. Apologising won’t fix the problem, but it does help to defuse it immediately.

Try it and see.

3. Show your concern

Fixing the problem is ‘expected’ – it’s an average response.

But by itself it is a missed opportunity.

Add another ‘layer’ to your response. This means doing something MORE for the customer. Show genuine concern.

Let them feel you recognise their upset or anger.

Imagine the impact of this breakdown on your customer and the wasted time, frustration, inconvenience and stress it caused them.

Appreciate and acknowledge in writing, in person or by ‘phone.

Let them hear and see your concern. Nobody expect perfection but everyone appreciates understanding.

4. Be empowered

If you don’t have empowered employees, you will never have service recovery, sorry.

And if you don’t have service recovery, you won’t have loyal customers. The magic of improving customer service occurs when it happens with a front line employee who IS empowered to “make that call”.

Identify and eliminate polices and procedures that tie your employees’’ hands and then reward employees who make empowered decisions that satisfy – and ultimately retain – your customers.

5. Fix it quickly

When something has gone wrong, don’t make a customer wait for good service why you try to fix it. Fix the problem as soon as possible.

The cost of the fix must be considered, but don't get hung up about pinching pennies or going through the layers of bureaucratic approvals. Service recovery is an investment in long term relationships and the ROI can be tremendous.

Your fix (depending on the nature of your business) may be a replacement, a repair, a return, a new product alternative, an apology or a new person working on that client account.

Don't get stuck pointing fingers internally or arguing about cost. Just do it! And ensure it doesn't happen again – for this customer or others. Make each mistake a learning opportunity for everyone involved. Repeated mistakes are the real cost you want to avoid

6. Keep your promises Service recovery is double jeopardy time – where the stakes are doubled and the score can really change.

Your system had already failed once. If you make promises you can’t keep in trying to get the business back in the customer’s good books, it will be like throwing fuel on the fire.

Be realistic about what you can and can’t deliver, and how quickly.

Need more tips on Service Recovery including the importance of the Follow Up?

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